In this Monday, Aug. 12, 2013 photo provided by the U.S. Navy, Petty Officer 2nd Class Jerrel Revel, left, proposes to his boyfriend Dylan Kirchner during the homecoming of the USS New Mexico at the submarine base in Groton, Conn., after the ship's inaugural six-month deployment. They have not set a wedding date. Defense officials estimate there are 18,000 same-sex couples in the active-duty military, National Guard and Reserves. It's unclear how many of those are married.
GROTON, Conn. — A Navy sailor returning from a six-month deployment emerged from his submarine, dropped to one knee and proposed to his boyfriend during the homecoming celebration in Connecticut for USS New Mexico.
About 200 people were gathered at the dock of the Naval Submarine Base New London where Machinist's Mate Jerrel Revels proposed to Dylan Kirchner. Kirchner said he had thought about getting married but the proposal Monday came as a surprise.
"I didn't really care everybody was around. It felt just like the two of us," Kirchner told The Day of New London (http://bit.ly/1cJPEME).
The couple has not set a wedding date.
The repeal of the ban on openly gay military service took effect in 2011.
Defense officials estimate there are 18,000 same-sex couples in the active-duty military, National Guard and Reserves. It's unclear how many of those are married.
The attack submarine traveled more than 34,000 miles over six months and stopped at ports in Norway, Scotland and Spain. It marked the first deployment for more than 70 percent of the crew. The sub was commissioned in 2010 and is the second Navy vessel to be named for New Mexico.